HACK THE NORTH PROJECT
Streamlining the immigration process through an easy and custom-tailored experience.
Research, UI mockups, Front-End Dev
Sketch, Adobe Illustator, HTML5, CSS3
Aditya Mansharamani, Justin Stribling, Yutian Lin, Gillian Wu
How can we make the immigration process easier for high skilled workers and prevent people from getting lost in the system?
About 23 thousand immigrants arrive on Canada's shores every month. Many of them have encountered similar problems and frustrations with the immigration process — whether it is due to lack of information, systematic errors or just merely having little to no guidance. Not only does this cost them time and money, but it also puts a lot of stress on these individuals. With the Canadian technology sector set to face a shortage of 220,000 tech workers by 2020, it is important to reduce the barriers in attracting high-skilled workers.
Galleon, aims to be a modern-day version of the ships of the past - offering a comprehensive, custom-tailored experience intended to make immigration an exciting time for everyone - as it should be, rather than the scary and even frightening process it is for so many today.
The idea of Galleon came from a conversation I overheard at work where the CTO and the machine-learning specialist were both voicing their frustrations over the immigration process and the huge expense of immigration lawyers. Therefore I began my research by interviewing the CTO through a short Skype call.
During our chat, I wanted to really understand what made the current immigration process so frustrating and how might we reduce user pain points to create a smoother experience. By exploring the process it takes to get from start to finish, I was able to get a better sense of the user journey.
Through observational research, I wanted to further investigate the information architecture of the current immigration website and try to navigate through the process myself.
The first thing I noticed about the Canadian Immigration website was that there was an overwhelming amount of textual information with hyperlinks on it. Click on one of those links and it will take you to a page with even more hyperlinks. My teammate Yutain and I spent more than two hours combing through the website in order to find what we needed. This reinforced what I had learned from the interview I conducted with Audun. There were too many different links and a lack of clarity on what documents for the immigration process.
The problem with having so many hyperlinks is that it causes information overload and increases distraction. It reduces the user's ability to think deeply and process information, which may lead to more mistakes during the application process.
Startup founders, high skilled workers, international students, families
Busy schedules, limited time frames, may need help with immigration documents
Individuals use it at home or with their immigration lawyer
The users would have basic understanding of how to use a computer or smart phone
Through the wireframes, I wanted to make each step clearer for the users. In order to do so, I kept the designs simple and to the point so that it is easier and more intuitive to use.
The first iteration of the low-fidelity wireframes consisted of questions that had a long scroll. However, this can be a bit overwhelming to first-time users and can reduce the retention rate. Therefore in the second iteration, I broke the task into further chunks to make it easier for the user to tackle.
Despite breaking down the steps visually, the sections still appeared to be a long and tedious process for the user. Unfortunately, due to time constraints I was not able to further refine the designs until after the Hackathon ended.
Galleon welcomes every new user by asking them to fill out their personal information - such information includes age, education level, language proficiency scores, and so on. This data is then combined with Canada's official immigration guidelines to offer the user a predicted Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score, a system used by the Canadian government to weigh different factors in potential immigrants.
Below is the most recent iteration of the step-by-step application process.
Galleon will then begin tailoring the immigration experience to the user. For example, it can suggest potential language exams to take or provide options for a different route, such as getting a Trade Occupation Certificate. Galleon adapts to the user's needs in order to give them the best chance of succeeding with their skillset. We also use historical immigration statistics to offer insight into the Canadian immigration policy. Furthermore, the platform allows successful entrants to sign up as mentors in order to further facilitate the process for those that are following their footsteps.
During the 36 hour hack, I got the chance to tackle a really interesting problem while learning to work with developers to accomplish a common goal. I learned how to defend my designs and fight for the functionality of the platform over what is 'pretty'. One major challenge my team and I ran into was the problem of trying to simplify the complicated government processes into easy to understand steps. We spent a lot of our time researching policies and figuring out how to organize the information so that the average user can go through it with ease.
In the future, I would like to interview more people about their immigration application process so I can further improve the functionality and experience of the platform. Moreover, I would also like to develop a better and more consistent user interface for Galleon.